Methods of Communication in Business
— April 30th, 2019
Good communication is the key to business success. Without clear, concise, and appropriate communication businesses are ruined and wars are lost. Whether it be the fine print in a contract or the big team meeting to rally the troops, the principles, and practices of good communication will either make or break the deal – and the last thing you want is to strike out due to foggy verbiage and poor oration. Time to brush up on those communication skills and, while you're at it, you may want to consider the following points on the methods and practices of internal and external discourse.
In this day and age, we are blessed with a plethora of ways in which we can communicate with each other. From email to instant messaging, digital hangouts to good old face-to-face contact and that tried and true chestnut, the telephone, we are perhaps more in demand as communicators than ever.
Not forgetting, of course, the traditional letter, the digital form, the Word document, and the slide show. Remember, clarity is always your friend when considering which method of communication to use to get the job done. In fact, choosing the right method encourages clarity and eliminates the chances of an ambiguous, misunderstood message.
Tools of the Trade
Having decided upon an appropriate method to impart your message, it's time to choose a suitably effective form of delivery. Be it conference call, email, face-to-face meeting or a speech in front of the team, vessels for delivering your message include, but are not limited to, app-based instant messaging, digital hangout platforms across multiple time zones, video conferencing applications, and a whole lot more. Email, memo, pen, and paper?
Remember, choosing a suitable delivery method can impact not only your performance but both the way in which your message is received and understood by your audience. So, choose wisely. Sacrificing a face-to-face for a phone call or an email may seem prudent for the sake of brevity, but can seem cold and off-putting on the receiving end, whereas informing someone that they 'haven't got the job' by taking the time to explain why in person, or via video conferencing, can still leave a positive impression in the mind of the potential employee or client.
Style and Tone of Delivery
Now that the basics are out of the way it's time to concentrate on you. Specifically, your style and tone, and the way in which you intend to impart your information. Being firm and decisive shows the strength of character, but it can also come across as stiff and cold, whereas a lighter approach can seem fine on the surface but make it too light and you run the risk of a meandering message that fails to land. The real trick is to find the balance between the two, which can often come down to one of several things.
- The tone of voice is an important weapon in your arsenal and something that all speakers should be aware of. How we speak to other people and the tone we choose can radically alter how information is received, and a harshly delivered briefing can alter not only the message but the team dynamic, too. Try to be aware of this at all times, and think about recording yourself to catch instances of hasty, harsh, or even flat delivery. Remember – it's easier to correct the mistake before it happens and before it counts.
- The second check on the list is to assess your body language. Professor of psychology Albert Mehrabian states that “the majority of a conversation’s meaning is imparted by facial expressions and body language, rather than the words themselves.” Body language can be the key to solid engagement and the delivery of a message understood. Subconscious slouching or a mannequin-still performance can easily kill a presentation, whereas movement and gesticulation, in moderation, can amplify an already linguistically tight pitch and help to engage an audience.
- It may help to think about the broadness of your body language in light of your specific situation. Remember – a broad and strong delivery may play well in front of a team, but one-to-one video conferencing requires a more subtle approach. Practicing out loud before a mirror or recording device can go a long way towards ensuring that what you say gels with what your body is saying. As Richard Miller emphasizes, “Employees will receive your words more positively if your facial expressions and body language don't put them on edge or the defensive.”
- Finally, if it's a team pep talk then the odd joke can be useful as a stress breaker, a morale booster, and even as a way to soften the atmosphere which may help bring skeptics over to your side. This can also apply to presentations and pitches, too. Just don't overdo it. Remember that 'less is more', to quote the old maxim, and humor should be used as a tool and not a crutch to fall back on. Instead, strengthen an already strong dialogue with the odd witty aside. We're human, after all.
Beyond the boardroom
A strong message is one that resonates. It's a set of values or ideas, aims or objectives that touch lives and inspire people. It's something that people feel like they can get behind. With the above methods in mind, we can look at the business as a whole and the core principles that guide it. The vision and the strategy. In today's world it is perhaps more important than ever to get this message across to not only top tier management, but the entire workforce, too.
Choosing the correct tone and delivery can make all the difference when attempting to impart these core values - your guiding mantra - to the world. Consider using language that reaches into realms of the emotional rather than simply transactional. Emotionally charged language can help forge lasting relationships with both internal and external clients alike, galvanizing your team by using communication to create followers instead of a workforce.